I love going out for a cocktail, a beer, a glass of wine. But like so many of us, the pandemic and the ensuing chaos made me question the ubiquity of alcohol in my life. I love its relaxing effect and the comfort that comes with having something to sip on at a social event, but the headaches, the hangovers and the dehydration are not something I can stomach on the regular.
Some are satisfied with pretty, alcohol-free mocktails that contain little more than sparkling water and juice. Unfortunately for me, they often fall flat for me. That’s why I think cannabis-infused beverages are such a great option: They offer a buzz with none of the negative effects of alcohol. Although they may not be ideal if you’re sensitive to THC, dosing with a drink often offers more predictability than other types of edibles, meaning you have to worry less about getting too high at a party.
I’ve already written about how I think cannabis-infused beverages are the no-ABV way forward, and I can’t wait until the day they appear at my local bar. Until then, here are some cannabis-infused drinks you can enjoy at home, at the beach or at your next summertime BBQ. Happy sipping.
Mad Lilly Spritzers
There are a ton of sparkling cannabis seltzers on the market, but for those who prefer something that’s more flavorful than sparkling water, Mad Lilly Spritzers deliver. Flavors like ginger pear and raspberry hibiscus are light and summery but pack enough flavor to keep things interesting. I tried the passion fruit mango and was kind of shocked that it tasted just like juice. A lot of cannabis-infused drinks do, in fact, taste mildly like cannabis, but this one? Not at all. With 22% juice, 5 milligrams of THC and 5 milligrams of CBD, it’s a great way to wind down after a long day.
For those looking for a less-intense experience, Endless Coast seltzers from Curaleaf are a solid option. The lemon ginger and grapefruit and botanicals flavors only contain 2.5 milligrams of THC in a can, which means you can more effectively control your dose if you’re trying to make sure you don’t overdo it. For those who do want a stronger drink, the lime and the orange mango jalapeno each contain 5 milligrams of THC. I found the orange mango jalapeno flavor to be particularly interesting; it’s definitely not spicy, but there is a hint of heat that makes this drink stand apart from most others on the market.
One product I personally find particularly interesting is S*Shots. This brand joins a slew of other alcohol-free “spirits,” except this one serves up a strong dose of THC in every serving. It’s definitely not a product for everyone, as each “shot” contains 10 milligrams—that can be pretty strong if you’re not an experienced user. But I love that it has the ability to be used in a cocktail. While canned seltzers can be fun from time to time, if you want a more exciting, visually appealing drink, cannabis-infused cocktails are the way to go. Of course, you can also take shots of this stuff. Although the taste isn’t bad (and is certainly easier to stomach than any shot of alcohol), it’s not tasty enough for me to want to sip it on its own—taking it as a shot is probably a better option.
RTD (ready-to-drink) cocktails continue to make their mark on the drinks scene, but varieties without alcohol (and with cannabis) aren’t particularly easy to find. Klaus is an exception. These canned cocktails are designed by mixologist Warren Bobrow. The flavor of cannabis isn’t hidden here; rather, the terpenes play an important role in the flavor of each drink. The Mezzrole features ginger, lime and rice vinegar for a zippiness you may not expect from a cannabis-infused cocktail. If you’re looking for something a little different and a bit more elevated from your cannabis drink, Klaus may just be the way to go.
What if you want to feel more relaxed but you’re not super interested in getting high? You might want to have Wyld sparkling water on your radar. Although these drinks contain 25 milligrams of CBD, they’re THC-free, so you’re not going to get high from them. And because the seltzers are infused with real fruit, you get a subtle but pronounced flavor with every sip. Simple flavors like blackberry, blood orange and lemon are simple, straightforward and refreshing.
Samantha Maxwell is a food writer and editor based in Boston. Follow her on Twitter at @samseating.